Magical Realism – Blog Hop

For part of the Magical Realism Blog Hop initiated over at Zoe Brooks’ awesome site, I wanted to post something new but I’m a bit pressed for time so I thought I’d share this post from my other site instead:

 

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A Wild Sheep Chase – Mini Review

I loved A Wild Sheep Chase – I finished it a while back but finally got around to recording a couple of (brief) thoughts about it.

For me, this is a great place to start if you’re new to Haruki Murakami. The story has all the classic Murakami elements; an almost detective-like search, a mysterious, bewitching girl and wonderful surrealist aspects – most strikingly perhaps, in one hell of a strange sheep that no-one can seem to find.

Unlike say, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle‘s wider scope, this shorter novel has a swifter storyline and also features more surrealism than another popular entry point to his work, Norwegian Wood.

When I look back on it my strongest impression is actually (at first) thinking the ending wasn’t as strong as I was expecting, yet I found myself thinking about the end of the novel often in the days after. So, as it turns out, it was actually exactly what it needed to be.

Definitely worth getting a copy.

 

blog hop 2015 dates

This post is part of the Magic Realism Blog Hop. About twenty blogs are taking part in the hop. Over three days (29th – 31st July 2015) these blogs will be posting about magic realism. Please take the time to click on the button below to visit them and remember that links to the new posts will be added over the three days, so do come back to read more.

1. The Autumn of the Patriarch – Magic Realism Books blog
2. Why I Write Magic Realism – Hearth/Myth
3. Magic in the Real World – Zoe Brooks Books
4. Magic Realism Betwixt and Between – Malcolm’s Round Table
5. The Magic In Magic Realism – Lily Iona Mackenzie’s blog
6. In the Footsteps of Franz Kafka – Adventures in the Czech Republic
7. The Reincarnation Chronicles and Magic Realism – Qaraq Books
8. More Words About Magic Realism – Glenda Guest
9. Putting the Magic into Magical Realism
10. Do You Believe in Magic – Kathy Bryson
11. Magical Realism: How Much Is Realism? – Laura Cowan
12. A Most Enduring Enchantment – Eilis Phillips
13. Why Every Writer Should Try Magic Realism – JT Robertson
14. Just Starting Out Beware of Magical Realism – Malcolm’s Round Table
15. Magic Realism & the Cahuilla Indians Of Southern California
16. Make it Big – Stephanie Barbe Hammer
17. The Boundaries of Fantasy – Anfenwick
18. The Poetry of Magical Realism – Rachel Dacus
19. Long of the Earth – Jack Marshall Maness
20. Rursday Reads – Review of Winter by Mark Helprin
21. Lois Zamora Lecture Series – Magic Realism Books Blog
22. Ashley Capes – A Review of Wild Sheep Chase by Murakami

The Tintin 2015 Reading Challenge: The Crab with the Golden Claws

Next up in my Tintin Reading Challenge is The Crab with the Golden Claws. (Last time I read King Ottokar’s Sceptre). It’s been a while since I’ve posted on Tintin and, as before, I’m behind schedule so expect a few more Tintin posts close together soon 🙂

#9 – 1941

Another of my favourites – probably because it’s here that we first meet Haddock AND get treated to some of his fantastic strings of curses!

People familiar with the recent CGI film will see a lot of plot elements and scenes taken from the Crab, like the way Tintin meets Haddock and the use of the Karaboudjan, the sea plane escape and shootout, the crash and hallucinations in the desert etc

There’s also a fantastic little sequence where Haddock is screaming for revenge and the snap-zooms and rage on his face is priceless. More fantastic full-page images here too – this issue feels jam-packed with them, though it’s the underside of the sea-plane one that I liked the best.

Next up: The Shooting Star.

The Tintin 2015 Reading Challenge: King Ottokar’s Sceptre

The next entry in my Tintin Reading Challenge is King Ottokar’s Sceptre. (Previous entry is The Black Island). While I’m still running behind, I’m confident I can finish them all in 2015! And so, here’s my review:

#8 – 1939

I felt Ottokar’s Sceptre was ‘only’ good rather than great.

It’s not that there are any clear faults – and we’re treated to another absent-minded professor, as Herge continued to warm up for Calculus’ eventual appearance – but the adventure was missing some tension for me. It might have been a case of expectations not quite being met, as I wanted a little more depth to the mystery of how the sceptre is stolen I think, more detail to that plot.

The premise I really enjoyed – the theft of a royal sceptre as a per-cursor to war between ‘Syldavia’ and ‘Borduria’ with Tintin having to thwart various war-mongers and duplicate professors, but I think the scale of the conflict implied didn’t really come off in the space of a single volume.

There were some great mountain-based panels at the Syldavia border but again, for me, the range of colour and settings appeared a little repetitive this time around. Perhaps Herge put more effort into creating the warring countries in the story as stand-ins for Germany and Austria?

Still, no Tintin adventure is terrible and this one is notable for the first appearance of Bianca Castafiore and her…powerful voice.

Next up: The Crab with the Golden Claws.

The Tintin 2015 Reading Challenge: The Black Island

Continuing my Tintin Reading Challenge is an entry for The Black Island. (Last time I read The Broken Ear). I’m actually running behind, so somewhere between now and December I’m going to have to post a few extra reviews in one month, but for now – here’s my response to the 7th adventure:

#7 – 1938

Fantastic! Not my all time fav but right up there among Tintin’s top 5 adventures I reckon.

There’s so much to like here – it’s one one of the more deft, tightly controlled plots with Herge bringing together his usual twists, humor, intrigue and scene-setting in a brilliant work that never lets up but never feels rushed. I won’t rehash the plot but I was gripped instantly the first time I read this as a kid – and this time around – Tintin is shot on the opening page!

His investigation sends him eventually to Scotland, sees him piloting a plane and taking on a gorilla, the poor, mistreated Ranko. In fact, I must say Tintin is VERY impatient with Snowy in this adventure too, thumping him a bit and generally being ungrateful.

As ever, there are some wonderful panels and settings. I enjoyed seeing Snowy quite pleased with himself upon finding the bone and the detail inside Dr Muller’s home was lovely too. The great vertical panels where the fire inspector climbs to the nest also stood out – or the medium shot of the island and the ruined castle.

In fact I wish there’d been more time spent on the island, it’s my only real issue with this volume – but as compensation, there were rakes – man’s oldest foe.

Next up: King Ottokars Sceptre.

The Tintin 2015 Reading Challenge: The Broken Ear

Finally posting the third entry in my 2015 Tintin reading challenge tonight with The Broken Ear! (So far I’ve also read Cigars & The Blue Lotus).

This one’s a solid entry into the Tintin series  for me– and a solid Tintin story is still pretty ace when you get down to it, but ultimately, it’s just not one of my favourites.

The Broken Ear

#6 – (1937)

During his search for the missing fetish with the broken ear, Tintin ends up in South America where he enlists in the army under the temperamental General Alcazar (who will go on to have other appearances in Tintin adventures) the high point of which being a pretty impressive car chase.

As ever, there are some great phrases in Tintin comics – often insults or exclamations – and it was fun to see ‘great snakes’ in this one. I also really enjoyed the comedy around the ‘fake Tintins’ on the ocean liner scene. Especially noteworthy, I thought, were the devils who are seen taking two of the villains away right near the end of the story.

Again, not the best Tintin adventure, but in no way disappointing.

Next up: The Black Island.

The Tintin 2015 Reading Challenge: The Blue Lotus

Continuing my 2015 Tintin reading challenge tonight with The Blue Lotus. Earlier in the month I read Cigars of the Pharaoh and the storyline from that volume actually wraps up here.

The Blue Lotus is a special one for a few reasons, it’s got a pretty fantastic cover and some wonderful large panels, especially when entering towns, and perhaps most important to the history of Tintin, the introduction of Chang – who becomes vital to a future adventure.

#5 - (1936)

#5 – (1936)

Another twisty tale with some great double-bluffs, perhaps the most impressive thing about this one is the changes Herge makes to his research. The setting is much more accurately rendered in terms of dress and backdrops, characters on banners etc and a more balance view on race – where Tintin even discusses cultural misconceptions with his new friend Chang.

Thomson & Thompson return with one of their best single panels – where they attempt to blend into the streets of Shanghai with predictable results. I also loved hearing Thompson (or Thomson?) using the word ‘botheration.’ Fantastic.

There’s also some more instances of Herge’s fondness for alliteration (‘seventy-seven suffering samurais’) and some great night panels which always remind me of the ‘day for night’ shooting used in the older films (such as Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.)

Another great adventure!

Next up: The Broken Ear.

The Tintin 2015 Reading Challenge: Cigars of the Pharaoh

So, a while back I decided to read all the Tintin books in 2015, which I’m really looking forward to. The challenge itself is pretty simple – I have to read about 2 a month. What might take a bit of time will be tracking down the first few and the last one. (The others I have on the shelf 🙂 )

And being as it’s 2015 now, I’m kicking off with one of the earliest Tintin’s I remember reading as a kid – Cigars of the Pharaoh. (I’ll read in chronological order from here, looping back to the first Tintin in December.)

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#4 – (1934)

Still one of my favourites, Cigars of the Pharaoh feels like ‘classic’ Tintin, even if it’s only the fourth release in the series and a lot of aspects to Herge’s Tintin-universe were still being developed.

It’s got a heap of action and the twists are piled on, there’s great word play from Thomson & Thompson (who make their first appearance) and the bounds of reality are amusingly stretched when Tintin carves a trumpet and learns the language of elephants. There’s also plot lines that run into the next volume and Snowy’s asides are great – and as ever, I love the ‘clear line’ style and the expressiveness of those few lines. There’s a panel where Snowy thinks Tintin has been killed and the despair on his poor face is drawn so well!

Easily one of the best Tintin adventures in my book.

Next up: The Blue Lotus.